Archive for the ‘Hawai’i’ Category

Lu’au in Ithaca

Ithaca is known for Cornell, crappy weather, and the gorges.  Lu’au’s??  Not so much.  Despite Ithaca being one of the most un-tropical places, every year there is, indeed, a lu’au.

Every spring, the Cornell Hawai’i Club puts on a Lu’au.  Complete with a buffet of Hawaiian food and hula dances, this lu’au is completely run by students.  A lu’au is a festive gathering where, traditionally, pork cooked in an imu, or underground oven, is served.  Although there was no underground oven, the lu’au served up up kalua (which means sherdded) pork, fried noodles, sweet potatoes, lomi salmon, lihing fruit, and rice.  Dessert served up butter mochi (rice cake), pineapple upside-down cake, and haupia, which is a traditional coconut custard.


dinner of Hawaiian foods                                    mmm dessert!

In addition to the buffet, lu’au also features a whole program of dances.  The two types of hula are kahiko and ‘auana.  Kahiko is the ancient style of hula that incorporates traditional mele, or songs, and ‘oli, or chants.  ‘Auana is the modern style that can be accompanied with current songs, music, and costuming.  Another year, another Lu’au.  Mahalo (thank you)!

Tahitian dance

Real Ramen!

My first bowl of real ramen! I didn’t think it would be in Hawai’i but life is full of surprises.

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Some co-workers took me here for lunch at McCully shopping center. The restaurant was not clearly labeled but I think it might have been called Kyoto Ramen? They had a pantan broth made of pork and chicken and had house made chashu which is marinated, tender pork slices garnishing the soup and noodles. A bowl was about $10 with and additional $1 if you wanted it spicy, which of course I had. The noodles were think and chewy but not too hard and they also were house made. It was definitely everything I had expected and more. A hearty bowl of rich soup with chashu and noodles… they were meant to be together. I’ve always been a broth drinker when it came to soups and never more so than this bowl of ramen. For most of my life ramen was that instant msg-ified meal that tasted awesome while eating it but makes you feel like crap afterward. Now with the real thing, ramen is satisfying before during and after.

Kyoto Ramen: ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 5 super yummy noodles!

Weekend Eats: Giovanni Shrimp, Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, Kahala Nuts

This past weekend was a whirlwind. My weekends left in Honolulu are dwindling so I’ve felt a need to do as much as possible. Saturday morning I did an ocean swim from Chun’s Reef to Waimea Bay, Saturday afternoon I drove around with friends eating my way through the North Shore, Sunday morning I went diving, and Sunday afternoon I had my last sailing class.

The rest of Saturday was spent frolicking around North Shore eating lots. First stop was Giovanni’s shrimp truck. There were a lot of shrimp trucks to choose from on that road. I think the area was Kahana and Giovanni’s seemed to be a very established one.

I split a hot n spicy shrimp with a friend for $13 and they weren’t lying when they call it hot n spicy. I am a spicy food fan and I could eat it all but I wasn’t going to lick the sauce off the plate. The spiciness factor was a little too much for me and made eating the shrimp a little less enjoyable. I guess I should have taken it more seriously when they state on the menu that there are no refunds for hot n spicy shrimp.

Next stop was Matsumoto’s Shave Ice in Hale’iwa. Shave ice is a Hawaiian speciality. They are basically snow cones on steroids. You can get it with ice cream, condensed milk drizzled on top, and choose from literally a gazillion flavors.

Not to mention they are huge.

I got a large mango, blueberry, and one more flavor I can’t remember with condensed milk on top. mmm There was a huge line out the door but they have streamlined operation so you don’t really have to wait that long. The store is full of different t-shirts and shave ice gear like key chains.

Shave ice is awesome because it’s cheap, fun, and Hawai’i has the best.

The night before I went to see hp7pt2 at the theater and they were selling Kahala candied nuts! There were macnuts, pecans, and almonds. I of course had to get the macnuts and it was either 1 for $5 or 2 for $8 (or was it 1 for $4 and 2 for $6??) so I opted for the better deal and more nuts and got macnuts and almonds. I finished the macnuts during the movie before I could even get a picture. I saved the almond ones for later.

Giovanni’s: + + + + 4 pluses
Matsumoto’s: <0 <0 <0 <0 <0 5 shaved ices
Kahala Nuts: co co co co co 5 diamond nuts

Diving pictures in case you’re interested. YO (yard oiler wreck and Nautilus Reef)

Weekend Eats: La Tour Macaroons, Liliha Coco Puffs

Last weekend presented some good eating opportunities in the desserts category.

La Tour Macaroons:

I was always confused about macaroons because I thought they were all like coconut macaroons and didn’t know why they looked like colorful chocopies.  These were my first macaroons everrr and they were quite delicious.  There were plenty of flavors to choose from:

And I ended up getting 3.

matcha (green tea)

strawberry black currant

banana caramel










The macaroons were cheerfully hued, light, creamy centered, sugary delights.  The banana had good banana cream filling but not so much caramel flavor.  Matcha had a nice green tea pop and I love how the inside is so bright green!  Strawberry with a black currant surprise in the middle for a little more chewy texture.

I had packed a pbj on La Tour squaw bread from the farmer’s market for a snack and also bought a vietnamese ice coffee so it was a meal!

The only real downside was the price.  They were $1.75 x 3 = $5.25 for 3 macaroons… a little on the pricey side for a few cookies but hey, just more economic portion control.

I also went to a friend’s house for dinner last weekend and someone brought Liliha Bakery Coco Puffs.

These are apparently Liliha Bakery’s specialty.  They are chocolate filled cream puffs with a signature Liliha topping that you see in the picture.  I don’t think I’ve ever had anything quite like this topping, not quite a frosting but very think, sweet, and buttery.  The girl who brought them said there was a woman getting a cake frosted in the stuff when she picked them up at the bakery!

mmm mmm

I also made a haupia pie to take to my friend’s dinner.  If you don’t know what that is see my pi day post!  I only had a few hours hence the speed cooling in the freezer.


La Tour: o o o o   4/5 macaroons

Liliha Coco Puffs: o o o o   4/5 coco puffs

Haupia Pie:  simplest tropical pie you can do, if only I had time for a homemade crust

Spices – A Restaurant

Wow, so I’ve fallen behind in updating…  Studying took over a little bit I guess.

Nonetheless I have still been eating!

Last Sunday I was peregrinating around UH campus area on Dole St. looking for some dinnahs.  I was looking for maybe a ramen shop or Chinese or something and there were a few no-goes.  I walked a little further down and there was a restaurant called “Spices” spelled with chili peppers calling itself a southeast asian restaurant.  I love Thai food and despite only having been open for a little while there were already 2 people eating inside.  It looked pretty nice and I was getting hungrier so I walked in.

It was a nice little restaurant with light streaming in on the yellow-gold paint with framed pictures and buddhas around.

They put mint in the water bottles which looked pretty classy.  The water didn’t taste like mint or anything but it looked cool.

The menu had some Thai classics like pad thai, Burmese, and perhaps Laotian food?  I ended up ordering the Burmese Ono Khao Soi aka Roger’s fave with tofu.  This is my first khao soi and I think first Burmese dish.  Although, I may have had a Burmese style biryanni at a cooking class…


I ordered the Burmese Ono Khao Soi.

Noodles in curry with tofu and cilantro topped with crispy fried noodles on top. Delish. I’ve never had noodles in curry but it was really good. I love curry because even the tiniest leftovers makes another meal if you just mix it with rice. A little leftover curry goes a long way!

Of course I had to have dessert.

Khao Niew Kha Thi is the Burmese mango sticky rice with a coconut custard. I had to pay extra for the mango but mangoes are worth it.

It was garnished with mint and I totally ate it too.

Spices – ~< ~< ~< ~< ~< Delish


At last after a few weeks on island I have finally made it to Bubbie’s Ice Cream!!

the window sign at the University Ave location

For weeks I had been unknowingly passing it pergrinating to grocery stores and bus stops in the area but I finally snooped around for it after my sailing class last week.  I went to the one off University Ave near UH Manoa and it’s kinda in the back corner away from the intersection.  It doesn’t really matter though because it seems everyone knows where it is because it’s Bubbie’s!  People were coming in and out the entire time I was there for a constant line.

It was a cute space with a colorful chalkboard menu detailing sundaes and little wooden tables and chairs with framed articles detailing the glory of the ice cream mochi decorating the walls.  There was an ice cream counter and display case of some yummy looking peanut butter pies and such but seriously my query was ICM.  I digress.

So let’s get down to business to defeat … the Huns I mean about the ICE CREAM MOCHI!!

trio of Bubbie's ICM offerings: lilikoi, saurka, green tea

It is truly a beautiful sight to behold.  They’re like perfect, pastel, jewels of ice cream enveloped in a precise layer of chewy mochi.  They were pretty frozen and I was initially a little hesitant to bite into them for fear of cold tooth syndrome, but of course I did.  I actually found the mochi acts as a protective layer for cold sensitive front teeth.  I told you this was good stuff.

lilikoi aka passion fruit

green tea


There was a small board listing the mochi flavors of the day and there were a little more than 10.  There were your standards like vanilla and chocolate, the tropicals like lilikoi (Hawaiian for passion fruit) and guava, and the Japanese influenced like the sakura and green tea from what I can remember.  I believe the more specialized flavors rotate daily.

The lilikoi ICM was bright and sunny with lilikoi ice cream wrapped in lilikoi mochi.  The sakura was a cute pink with vanilla interior and I think sakura is the cherry blossom festival in Japan?  I didn’t really taste cherry in the mochi or maybe it’s called sakura just based on the cherry-blossom-pink color?  It was good nonetheless.  Finally, the green tea ice cream lined with green tea mochi.  Delish.  I’m pretty sure I’ve had green tea ice cream mochi from Trader Joe’s before…  The taste was pretty comparable.  I’ll have to scout those out when I get home.

yum in a black styrofoam bowl

Ice cream is all about the texture: the smooth, creamy, coldness melting in your mouth and paired with delicate, chewy mochi it is a perfect compliment.  A match made in heaven.

And to bring you back down to Earth, they go for $1 a pop and I read on one of the articles posted on the wall that they are 1/4 oz ice cream balls.  So I guess $1 for a quarter of an ounce of ice cream is pretty pricey? but I’ll think of it more as economic portion control.  If you buy more it does get slightly cheaper, 3 for $2.95 (5 cents, whoopie) up to 12 for $11.  There were people buying two dozen of these babies to go and $3 for a nice ice cream repast isn’t bad.

So I can cross Bubbie’s off my “must-do” list in Hawai’i:

  1.  Bubbie’s ICM!
  2. GRE
  3. scuba
  4. beach repose
  5. Harry’s Cafe kimchi omelette
  6. eat lots of mangoes
  7. see Forks over Knives
  8. Diamond head
  9. farmer’s markets
  10. bentos

That doesn’t mean I’m not coming back!

Summary: o o o o o   5/5 little ICMs

I only wish they had a bathroom.  I really wanted to wash my hands after my sailing class.  And of course there’s that styrofoam bowl.

Honolulu Fish Auction

What is worth getting up at 4:45 in the morning for? A fish auction.

I am interning with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) at the Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) in the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) fully immersed in the alphabet soup that is the government. A few weeks ago all the interns got to go see the fish auction in action and a tour of the NOAA offices.

auction action

The auction starts at 5:30 with the ring of a bell but unloading of the ships can start as early as 1am.  The fish are all laid out on little platforms on ice and on some fish samples are cut out at the tail end for prospective buyers to inspect.  Core samples are also drilled and displayed to show interior meat quality.  Tunas are unique fish because they maintain warm internal body temperatures which allows them to be very active and top predators in the ocean.  Their warm body temperatures can deteriorate the quality of fish if it becomes too elevated, for example, ‘burning’ the flesh if the fish struggles for a long time on the line.  The auctioneer and potential buyers move down the rows of fish and bid on a price per pound of each fish.  The fish are all weighed beforehand and the price is dependent on a variety of factors the the 4 C’s of diamonds: color, clarity, carat (size), and cut (I forget how ‘cut’ translates to fish quality).  A variety of buyers come to the auction including restaurants, retail, and wholesale.  The fish are sold locally and also imported to Japan, Canada, and Europe.


Here you can see the tunas laid out on ice on the platforms with portions near the tail cut out to inspect.  On the middle fish you can see a small white piece of paper on the gill with the core sample.




The Honolulu Fish Auction is unique because it is a high value, low volume fish market. For 2006, Honolulu ranked 38th by weight of fish landed (20.1 million lbs) for US ports and 4th in terms of value ($54.6 million).  That morning only one ship came in with 25 thousand pounds of fish so the prices were higher.

the board shows the boats that have come in under the method of fishing

Under “longline” you can see the Sea Pearl came in with 25,000 pounds of catch.  At the bottom, “troll” is another method of fishing and since it is a smaller boat the types of fish are counted up.  “Bottom” refers to the “Deep 7” bottomfish which is closed off during part of the year to ensure a sustainable bottom fishery (more here).  Longline fishing is when boats put out kilometers of main line with individual baited lines spaced out along the length.  The US longline fishery in the Western Pacific Region is primarily in Hawai’i and American Samoa.  In Hawai’i the longline fishery is limited to 164 vessels with 130 active vessels.  Shallow longlines target swordfish while deep target tuna.  In 2008, the Hawaiian and American Samoan longline fisheries landed 14,000 metric tons.


yellowfin tuna

Trolling is a method of fishing where one or more baited are drawn through the water.  In the US Western Pacific Region, trolling is the largest commercial pelagic (open water) fishery in terms of participation with 1,404 troll vessels in Hawai’i.  Catches are comparatively modest at 1,700 metric tons in 2008 with catches dominated by yellowfin tuna, mahimahi, and blue marlin.

Longlining is  controversial because of the bycatch, or non-target animals that are caught such as turtles and albatrosses.  There are mitigation techniques in place and continually being developed to decrease bycatch.  I had a negative impression of longline fishing before I came to the fish market from bycatch and its use to catch sharks.  Although that has not quite changed the fish auction really showed that longline fisheries are much more efficient means of fishing.

huddling around the fish

Seeing all of these fish laid out on the floor also stimulated a sort of emotional response in me.  I wasn’t crying at the auction or anything but it was a little sad to see some of these majestic animals with their tails lobbed off lying there on ice.  Some of these fish were decades old and just a day ago were swimming in the ocean.  In general, people have become so disconnected from where our food comes from.  We never picture the 80 pound tuna our sushi was filleted out of or the cow that fresh lookin’ steak came from in the grocery store.  I do eat fish and meat rarely and I do think it is important for people to reconnect with the origins of our food.

Seafood in Hawai’i is unsurprisingly a very important part of the culture.  Hawaiians love their seafood and it is good.  I love seafood and am all for it when it is harvested in sustainable way.  There is a lot of science that goes into managing fisheries effectively and it was cool to see the outcome of all of that at the auction.  The Honolulu Fish Auction was was a really interesting and eye-opening experience that made me think a bit.  What else can we do but eat, live, and learn?

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*Stats were taken from “The Hawaii Fishing and Seafood Industry” booklet 2007, Hawaii Seafood Project

Info about longline and troll fishing from “US Pelagic Fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean”
handout, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day from O’ahu!

So fireworks in Hawai’i are a pretty big deal on the 4th (and even more so on New Years).  They actually made do-it-yourself-fireworks-on-the-beach illegal for the first time this year =0.  I’m going to hit up Ala Moana Center to watch the fireworks on Magic ‘Island.’  It’s more of a peninsula that juts out at the end of a beach which is why I was confused when everyone kept referring to Magic Island…

In the spirit of baked goods and the 4th:

my usual 4th of july celebratory cake, but not this year =(

and fireworks:

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Tales from a Tiny Hawaiian Kitchen

Aloha from Honolulu!  A few months have passed since my last and only post but I will try to be more consistent.  A lot of things have been happened since March.  I went to Germany, Austria, and Italy… and now I am in Hawai’i for the remainder of the summer.  My Hawaiian summer is off to a start with plenty of sunshine and food to be had.  This is my second time to the islands and first time to O’ahu.  I am ready to dive headlong into the tropical goodness O’ahu has to offer and there are a few things I know already:

  1. Paradise is expensive!  Food included.  $8 box of cereal??  This is real people.
  2. The best place to eat tropical fruit is in tropical places. Mangoes, papaya, pineapple, you haven’t really eaten them until you come here.
  3. I will try Bubbie’s Ice Cream Mochi ASAP.  What is mochi you ask? =0
Alas, my foray into food here on O’ahu is limited by one aspect… a tiny kitchen.

My Hawaiian* Kitchen *Hawaiian only meaning that it is in Hawai'i

left side

right side

My small, ill-equipped kitchen is unfortunate for someone who likes to cook but it will have to do.  It won’t stand in the way of having some good eats!

there is a cute little window though